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The Dangerous Book for Boys Hardcover – May 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061243582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061243585
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 12 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (963 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Equal parts droll and gorgeous nostalgia book and heartfelt plea for a renewed sense of adventure in the lives of boys and men, Conn and Hal Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for Boys became a mammoth bestseller in the United Kingdom in 2006. Adapted, in moderation, for American customs in this edition (cricket is gone, rugby remains; conkers are out, Navajo Code Talkers in), The Dangerous Book is a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book's ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own).

Inside The Dangerous Book for Boys


Figure 8 Knot

Sheet Bend Knot


The Battle of Waterloo

Questions for Conn Iggulden

Conn and Hal Iggulden are two brothers who have not forgotten what it was like to be boys. Conn taught for many years before becoming one of the most admired and popular young historical novelists with his Emperor series, based on the life of Julius Caesar, and his newly embarked series on Genghis Khan, while Hal is a theater director. We asked Conn about their collaboration.

Amazon.com: It's difficult to describe what a phenomenon The Dangerous Book for Boys was in the UK last year. When I would check the bestseller list on our sister site, Amazon.co.uk, there would be, along with your book, which spent much of the year at the top of the list, a half-dozen apparent knockoff books of similar boy knowledge. Clearly, you tapped into something big. What do you think it was?

Iggulden: In a word, fathers. I am one myself and I think we've become aware that the whole "health and safety" overprotective culture isn't doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or--and this is the important bit--they'll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don't end up with safer boys--we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it's not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It's not good for their health or their safety.

You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much enjoys the thrill of danger. It's hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they'll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them. I think of it like playing the lottery--someone has to say "Look, you won't win--and your children won't be hurt. Relax. It won't be you."

I think that's the core of the book's success. It isn't just a collection of things to do. The heroic stories alone are something we haven't had for too long. It isn't about climbing Everest, but it is an attitude, a philosophy for fathers and sons. Our institutions are too wrapped up in terror over being sued--so we have to do things with them ourselves. This book isn't a bad place to start.

As for knockoff books--great. They'll give my son something to read that doesn't involve him learning a dull moral lesson of some kind--just enjoying an adventure or learning skills and crafts so that he has a feeling of competence and confidence--just as we have.

Amazon.com: You made some changes for the U.S. edition, and I for one am sorry that you have removed the section on conkers, if only because it's such a lovely and mysterious word. What are (or what is) conkers?

Iggulden: Horse chestnuts strung on a shoelace and knocked against one another until they shatter. In the entire history of the world, no one has ever been hurt by a conker, but it's still been banned by some British schools, just in case. Another school banned paper airplanes. Honestly, it's enough to make you weep, if I did that sort of thing, which I try not to. Reading Jane Austen is still allowed, however.

Amazon.com: What knowledge did you decide was important to add for American boys? I notice in both editions you have an excellent and useful section on table football, as played with coins. Is paper football strictly an American pastime? I'm not sure I could have gotten through the fourth grade without it.

Iggulden: I like knowing the details of battles, so Gettysburg and the Alamo had to go in, along with the Gettysburg address, stickball, state capitals, U.S. mountains, American trees, insects, U.S. historical timelines, and a lot of others. Navajo code talkers of WWII is a great chapter. It probably helps that I am a huge fan of America. It was only while rewriting for the U.S. that I realized how many positive references there already are. You have NASA and NASA trumps almost anything.

As for paper football, ever since I thought of putting the book together, people keep saying things like "You have rockets in there, yes? Everyone loves rockets!" Paper football is the first American one, but there will be many others. No book in the world is long enough to put them all in--unless we do a sequel, of course.

Amazon.com: Do you think The Dangerous Book for Boys is being read by actual boys, or only by nostalgic adults? Have you seen boys getting up from their Xboxes to go outside and perform first aid or tan animal skins or build go-carts?

Iggulden: I've had a lot of emails and letters from boys who loved the book--as well as fathers. I've had responses from kids as young as ten and an old man of 87, who pointed out a problem with the shadow stick that we've since changed. The thing to remember is that we may be older and more cynical every year, but boys simply aren't. If they are given the chance to make a go-cart with their dad, they jump at it. Mine did. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to know the book is being used with fathers and sons together, trying things out. Nothing is more valuable to a boy than time with his dad, learning something fun--or something difficult. That's part of the attitude too. If it's hard, you don't make it easy, you grab it by the throat and hang on for as long as it takes.

The book is often bought by fathers, of course. Their sons don't know Scott of the Antarctic is a great adventure story. How could they if it isn't taught any more? Good, heroic stories don't appear much in modern school curriculums--and then we wonder why boys don't seem interested.

Amazon.com: And finally, on to the important questions: Should Pluto still be a planet? And what was the best dinosaur?

Iggulden: Pluto is a planet. I know there are scientists who say it isn't, but it's big enough to be round and it has a moon, for crying out loud. Of course it's a planet. Give it ten years and they'll be agreeing with me again.

As for the best dinosaur, it depends what you mean by best. For sheer perfection, it probably has to be the shark and the crocodile. Modern ones are smaller but their record for sheer survival is pretty impressive. I only hope humanity can do as well. The only thing that will stop us is worrying too much.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8–Intentionally old-fashioned and politically incorrect, this eclectic collection addresses the undeniable boy-appeal of certain facts and activities. Dozens of short chapters, in fairly random order, cover a wide range of topics in conversational prose. Simple instructions for coin tricks and paper airplanes alternate with excerpts from history such as Famous Battles and facts about ancient wonders of the world and astronomy. The dangerous aspect is more apparent in such chapters as Making Cloth Fireproof, and Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit, but also applies to the overall premise that action is fun and can be worth the risks. A section on stickball, for instance, includes advice to possibly flee the vicinity in the event of a broken window. The information is appropriately concise. The knot-tying section, for example, sticks to five basic varieties with clear instructions and useful diagrams. Occasional topics such as Marbling Paper and Latin Phrases Every Boy Should Know may not fit the stereotypical interests of young males, but support the general theme of cultivating curiosity. The authors refer to their own experiences as they tested the activities, lending an appealing personal tone. Tongue-in-cheek humor emerges throughout, notably in eight bits of advice offered in the chapter called Girls. Already a best seller in England, this American edition features several adjustments, such as substituting The Declaration of Independence for Patron Saints of Britain. Both premise and content should appeal to many boys, and might be even more successful when nostalgic dads join in.–Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Despite finding time to write historical novels and The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden is in some ways better known as a trainer of Tollins. His Tollin troupe, "Small and Mighty," are famous in Tasmania, where they often play to packed houses. "It used to be just a hobby," he says, "but when you've seen a display of Tollin synchronized flying, you realize it's your life's work. Also, they can be transported in shoe boxes, so it's pretty cheap to get around."

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Customer Reviews

What a wonderful book for young boys--a great gift book for sons and nephews.
Eric Lefkofsky
I like the way it reads and it just feels like a good solid book that will be fun to read bits at a time.
Mitchell Llewellyn
The book very well written, easy to read for children and has a lot of fun activities to do.
Galina Fishman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

244 of 248 people found the following review helpful By K. Rule VINE VOICE on May 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after seeing the author on the Colbert show (or was it the Daily Show?). I loved the idea of the book and ordered it from Amazon immediately.

On arrival if found it exceeds my expectation. It reminds me a lot of the Popular Mechanics books from the 30's & 40's that I found in my grandmothers attic when I was a kid.

The style is archaic, which is part of the charm. My 6 year old son, who really isn't into "chapter books", went nuts for this book. I think this mostly had to do with the title, but as we scanned each chapter together he seemed to get more and more excited.

Before his bed time we read "coin tricks", "Girls" and he started planning how to get the badges found in the back of the book. He managed to learn the "French Drop" and proceeded to show everyone his new trick. Tomorrow he wants to hear about hunting and cooking rabbits.

My wife was a bit nervous about the book, especially after seeing the section on hunting and cooking a rabbit. But I think she liked the section on "Girls" and she realizes that this book is targeted to boys, not Moms.

It's definitely a hit. I will be reading chapters out of it to my son for some time to come. But I don't mind and will probably learn a thing or two myself.

Update:

It's more than a year later. The book is dog-eared, dirty and worn but my (now) 7 year old still reads and loves this book. I doubt there is a better review you can get from a 7 year old.
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557 of 625 people found the following review helpful By D. McHone on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been thoroughly enjoying the book, as has my son and thousands of boys (and dads!) in Great Britain and the US. What is it about this book that brings such excitement to so many?

If I had to offer my opinion, I would say that the appeal of this book is that it does not ask any boy to apologize for being a boy. Our culture is infested with the demand that boys forgo their God given call to grow up to be men, largely because we have adopted an unhealthy view of just what a man is. Whether our example be found in Homer Simpson, Ray Romano or the dad on Family Guy, men are portrayed as selfish imbeciles in a large portion of the media. Women are shown to be compassionate and intelligent, and they are usually given the role of the one who fixes the problems created by men. I have no doubt that most women are compassionate and intelligent, but the common negative portrayal of men is presented far too often, and frankly I'm tired of it.

This book has a different take on what it means to be a boy, which is important because boys grow up to be men. From a biblical standpoint, men are meant to lead their families and churches by serving them. Where can you find such a concept on the television? You can't. This is yet another reason to get this book in the hands of a boy and his dad and get them outside to explore the world, whether that be an excursion in the woods or even just in the back yard. But how does this book portray a boy? What ideals are encouraged?

I'm glad you asked.

I simply cannot take this book section by section. There are instructions meant to get a boy started in tying knots, making a bow and arrow, fishing and many other activities. These are expected out of a book about being a boy.
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184 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Some books you hang onto because they are useful, or well written, or happy memories are associated with them. And then there are the select books that are so handsome, you keep them because of pride of ownership. THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS is a keeper in all these categories. It is so durable and well designed, it is an absolute pleasure to hold and read.

As to its actual contents, it sits at the pinnacle of nonfiction for early teen and 'tween boys, alongside The Big Book of Boy Stuff by, er, yours truly. Anyway, the chapters in DANGEROUS BOOK are a glorious, encyclopedic hodge-podge. They range from the historical ("The Golden Age of Piracy") to the esoteric ("Grinding an Italic Nib"!) to the quite daring ("Understanding Grammar").

My kudos to the Brothers Iggulden for this retro look celebrating the secrets of boyhood. And again, neither gender nor age should restrict its readership; this book looks great sitting on anyone's nightstand.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Van Court VINE VOICE on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
And great for it!

It's dangerous because it brings back values from a time when personal responsibility was assumed, not assumed to be absent. Hunting with airguns is dangerous, but teaches that meat doesn't arrive on Earth wrapped in clear plastic. Anything to do with spies is dangerous, but codes and invisible inks are fun, can be used responsibly, and are an important part of history (n.b. the role of espionage in the American Revolution). Doing things with electricity like making batteries, electromagnets, and pocket lights is dangerous, but teaches some of fundements of the technologies that drive the modern world. Soccer is dangerous, I've seen kids break bones playing it, but it is good healthy fun, and the kids who broke bones openly and loudly resented having to sit out games while they recovered. Girls are dangerous in so many ways, but when treated with respect can make life better. Grammar is dangerous, especially in the hands of an attorney, but creates quite an advantage for those who master it.

All these things and more are discussed, and alternatives to XBox, Gameboy, PlayStation, etc are offered. This book is incredibly dangerous to proponents of a 'managed society' where everyone is protected from everything, and everyone is free and happy in exactly the proscribed fashion. And I'm OK with this. Because "the Dangerous Book for Boys" also encourages responsibility, manners, education, self-reliance, creativity, and a host of other values that receive lip-service but little actual support in mainstream America.

Several reviewers have expressed their displeasure with the phrase "for Boys". Get over it.
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